The Thing and Corpus Christi
Jun 4, 2018
I am a big Sci Fi Movie Fan. When I was younger, I saw one of my favorite films and also one of the most terrifying…John Carpenter’s The Thing.
And reflecting on the significance of this weekend’s celebration of Corpus Christi, I realized that more than just a film, the story hits closer to home regarding our fallen human nature, as a better understanding of the nature of the Holy Eucharist hits closer to home regarding our redeemed human nature.
That constant tension of assimilating more the fallen by rejecting the redeemed or assimilating more the redeemed and less the fallen is the experience of our lives here on earth.
And that is the key term and reality…assimilation, which means the state or condition of being absorbed into something as in the movie or as is the case of this weekend’s celebration, someone who is Jesus Christ.
The creature called the Thing is an extremely hostile shape-shifting alien organism. The Thing has the ability to assimilate other life forms in order to survive and spread, including humans.
TheThing's shape-shifting nature means that the biology can be the same as the organism it has replicated. The Thing has the ability to reconstitute itself following immense damage.
Christ’s biology is the same as ours…the entire point of the Incarnation and like us, more so in fact is vulnerable to suffering and absorbed immense damage to His body. And Jesus accomplishes this through a real and terrifying form of assimilation that Paul describes in Scripture:
For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died.i 15He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.j For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,n so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.
Reflect on that for a moment…Jesus assimilated or absorbed the full impact of humanity’s sin upon and within His person…no wonder crushed beneath that awful weight, Jesus sweat blood from every pore in His body while praying in Gethsemane.
Jesus did this so that He could make good on the petition we pray at the conclusion of the Our Father…deliver us from Evil…as Saint John reminds us about the point of the Incarnation:
Indeed the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the Devil. But He successfully accomplished this rescue mission, this delivery by enduring His Passion and death. But is able to reconstitute the damage inflicted on our human nature and condition and not only fully healing and repairing it by way of the Resurrection…but make our lives…infinitely better and improved upon by way of our now glorified existence.
And this is so that we can avoid being assimilated in Thing and Satan like Fashion and instead be assimilated into the Body of Christ, now risen from the Dead and glorified in Heaven…to be received here on earth.
The Thing must come into contact with its host in order to begin the process of copying its cellular structure. To do this, the cells begin digesting and replicating the host, eventually taking over the entire body, inflicting pain and eventually a terrible death upon its human host.
How different from the experience of God coming into contact with the host that is our humanity. For us men and for our salvation He came down from Heaven and by the Holy Spirit was Incarnate of the Virgin Mary.
In the womb of Mary God comes into contact with our humanity and from Mary’s body, she being God’s primary Host for the Incarnation Jesus takes a Body just like our own and is nourished by her body who begins the process of preparing the Holy Eucharist, the Host we receive at Mass where we are assimilated or absorbed into the Body of Christ.
After The Thing however has assimilated an organism, it is capable of imitating them exactly down to their memories, characteristics, mannerisms, and all of their traits…but in robotic fashion exhibiting little if any of the authentic personality it commandeered and destroyed.
Jesus on the other hand is fully human with a fully functioning human mind ever retaining His unique Divine Personality now made transparent through His human characteristics, traits and mannerisms we so wonderfully learn about in the Gospels.
But being God, He also retains all our memories, every breath we take, every beat of our heart and absorbing them into His divinity so that in being perfectly human we can me more perfectly like God…for as Saint Paul reminds us of this incredible assimilation process…in Him we live, and move and have our being. And by way of the Incarnation, in us God lives, moves and has His being.
The Thing has only assimilation and self-preservation in mind. Which is exactly what Christ has in mind, in heart and in body for us…to preserve our lives and keep them safe and saved from the destructive assimilating forces of sin and Satan.
There is a theory among theologians that what forced the hand of Satan and the fallen angels to rebel against God was this idea that God would one day not become an Angel, but a lesser more insignificant creature called man.
Incensed that God could so disrespect the dignity of the far more superior and mightier angels…Lucifer, God’s brightest and best Angel turned against God and ever since, their malicious mission is to pervert and corrupt our humanity, tempting us to be less and less like God in our redemption and more and more like him in his wicked fallen state.
The Thing and Satan are hell-bent on our destruction while Christ is Heaven Sent and Bent on our Salvation. The Thing is able to live by making others die, while Christ chooses to die so that we may live forever in joy and peace.
The most obvious and important form of assimilation that occurs for us has to do with digestion:
The blood transports absorbed food materials to different body cells where food materials are used for energy, growth and repair.
Food and drink are assimilated by the one who consumes them, in the unique case of Communion the one who consumes is assimilated by what he or she consumes…this process is called deification or becoming like God…we disciples do not just follow Jesus we become Jesus, participants through grace of what He is by nature.
And Jesus absolutely insists on this process saying:
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”a
52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?” 53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. 54Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. 55
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”
So much of what’s wrong with the world is Catholics failing to appreciate the gift of love and power that is the Holy Eucharist…infrequent reception starves the world of the life and love of Christ…can’t assimilate or digest what you do not consume…the body weakens, the heart withers, and the soul starves.
We are created to assimilate and be assimilated…the infant’s body assimilates to that of his mother drawing life and strength from her…when born he is assimilated into a family who care for him, support him and model for him love.
Without Christ deification cannot occur and rather than be more like God we become less human…things almost…we run the danger of being assimilated by the world and the Prince of this World who is the Devil…and being less like God…let us not become more like Satan.
We need to replicate Christ…imitate Christ…who insists on the night of the Last Supper, love one another as I love you…how can we love like God unless we have God…
We Need to reclaim the power of the Eucharist be a Eucharistic People…which literally places the fullness of God within us…even more than He was present in the womb of Mary when she carried Him for 9 months since we receive the fullness of his Risen power, the power that has conquered all sin, suffering, Hell and death.
You are what you eat…then let us consume and be assimilated by Jesus Christ.